Saturday, November 18, 2006


Of all the articles I've seen come off the Associated Press, by far the most bizarre is today's "Analysis: Bush is reinvigorated abroad".

The author, Anne Gearan, may be some sort of flack or just looking for an angle no one else in their right mind would be taking in order to distinguish herself. The article has very little in the way of facts to support her contention, aside from opening like this:
A change in scenery seemed to lift President Bush as he soaked up compliments from foreign leaders who appeared nonplussed by his political troubles back home.

Perhaps she is confusing Bush's customary obliviousness with being "nonplussed?"

Here's the truth of the matter, several actual facts (forgive me, Stephen Colbert) about how this trip was marked by Bush's political weakness before it even began, weakness during the trip, and is filled with empty non-gestures along the way.

For starters, even Fox News reported, "House Rejects Vietnam Free Trade Bill":
The measure failed to win the necessary two-thirds majority it needed under a procedure House Republicans adopted to rush it through with limited debate. It received 228 votes in support — 32 short of what was needed. There were 161 votes against it.

The Bush administration was hoping to gain approval of the measure before Bush meets later this week with Vietnamese leaders in Hanoi.

House Republicans were caught by surprise by the extent of opposition to the measure.

Then there's South Korea turning down the U.S. on inspection of North Korean shipping (Los Angeles Times):
Particularly disappointing for the Bush administration is Seoul's refusal to sign on to the Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI, a 2003 program calling for member nations to interdict and inspect ships suspected to be carrying weapons of mass destruction for rogue states. South Korea, fearful that such interdictions could prompt a collapse of the cease-fire that has been in place since the Korean War, made it clear Monday that it wouldn't join anytime soon.

And a New York Times article reveals a couple of damning failures in political stagecraft for this supposedly internationalist Presidente:
On Saturday, Mr. Bush emerged from his hotel for only one nonofficial event, a 15-minute visit to the Joint P.O.W./M.I.A. Accounting Command, which searches for the remains of the 1,800 Americans still listed as missing in the Vietnam War.

There were almost no Vietnamese present, just a series of tables displaying photographs of the group’s painstaking work, and helmets, shoes and replicas of bones recovered by the 425 members of the command. He asked a few questions and then sped off in his motorcade.

How does that compare with the previous Presidential visitor to Vietnam?
In 2000, tens of thousands of Hanoi's residents poured into the streets to witness the visit of the first American head of state since the end of the Vietnam War. Mr. Clinton toured the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature, grabbed lunch at a noodle shop, argued with Communist Party leaders about American imperialism and sifted the earth for the remains of a missing airman.

On Saturday, Mr. Bush's national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley, conceded that the president had not come into direct contact with ordinary Vietnamese, but said that they connected anyway.

"If you’d been part of the president’s motorcade as we've shuttled back and forth," he said, reporters would have seen that "the president has been doing a lot of waving and getting a lot of waving and smiles."

Is he President or Miss America?

Next on his, "Hey, if it's Sunday it must be Jakarta" tour:
Then he moves on to Indonesia for a few hours to meet "civic leaders," something he did three years ago in a stopover in Bali.

But Mr. Bush is not staying overnight in the world's most populous Muslim nation, which Washington has portrayed as a critical test in the struggle to promote moderate, democratic Islamic states. The Secret Service said it was too dangerous, so he will spend the night in Hawaii.

I guess the "W" stands for "Wussie".

Actually, little boy Presidente may be justified in this.

First, an Indonesian voodoo practitioner has reportedly jinxed Bush on the eve of his trip:
He said the jinx would send spirits to possess Secret Service personnel guarding Bush and put them in a trance, leading them into falsely thinking the president was under attack, thus eventually causing chaos in Bogor Presidential Palace, where the American leader was scheduled to meet President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday.

Then, per Steve Clemons, there's this historical nadir in American security:
I really can't discuss the participants or venue of a dinner I attended last night but suffice it to say that some of America's and Europe's leading current and former political personalities were there -- 60 people only -- and among them a few former Secretaries of State and foreign ministers, top intelligence officials, think tank chiefs, Senators and House Members, former National Security Advisors and Secretaries of Defense. The attendance list was extraordinary.

And the conversations -- on the whole -- were about the crappy condition of America's national security position. The guests in this dinner probably represented key participants in any new strategic consensus for the country. If there were brilliant, silver bullet ideas that might help this country move quickly beyond its problems, it would have been in such a crowd where such notions might be taken seriously and have impact.

But nothing. Absolutely nothing. People were depressed and dismayed about current conditions. One very, very senior Bush administration official when asked by me what ideas he had to stabilize Iraq and stop our slow bleed situation said he had exhausted what he felt was possible.

So when you read quotes like those by terminally puffed-up Stephen Hadley above, one has to ask, who are All the President's Asswipes kidding but themselves?

Anne Gearan?

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